Senate moves to check medical brain drain

By Musa Adamu and Ikechukwu Okaforadi

The Senate on yesterday moved to check the rising emigration of medical and health professionals from Nigeria to developed countries when it considered a Bill seeking to establish the Federal University of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Abeokuta, Ogun state.
Sponsor of the Bill, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (APC – Ogun Central), in his lead debate said that the establishment of specialized medical Universities had become very important in the country as there were high demands for medical and health professionals in Nigeria.
He said: “many reports suggest that the number of Doctors, Dentists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, and Bachelor’s Degree- prepared Nurses in the country are just not adequate to deal with the increasing population growth and the healthcare needs of Nigerians.
“The rising wave of external migration of medical and allied health professionals seeking greener pastures in more developed countries further compounds the problems.”
The lawmaker lamented that the mass emigration of needed professionals from the country had resulted in the near extinction of some disciplines offered by Nigerian universities.
“Furthermore, some critically needed health professionals such as physical and occupational therapists, medical engineers, psychotherapists, and others are just not adequately produced in the country.
“Indeed, some of the disciplines are on the verge of extinction due to the mass migration of these professionals.”
He warned that unless measures were introduced to check the situation, health indicators may continue to decline in the absence of interventions to tackle the trend.
“More Doctors and health professionals leaving the country has led to a shortage of Nigerian Doctors and specialized health care practitioners.
“This has resulted in a heavy strain and disaffection among those remaining. It is equally creating a fast rising personnel deficit in the country’s health sector, as statistics show that there is a ratio of one doctor to one hundred patients especially in our public hospitals.”
He however, expressed optimism that Universities of Medicine and Medical Sciences would provide the chance to train the critically needed health professionals as they will have flexibility especially for creative program expansion.
The Senate yesterday also considered a Bill seeking to give legal backing to the University of Health Sciences, Otukpo.
Sponsored by Senator Abba Moro (PDP – Benue South), said the Bill if eventually passed into law by the Ninth Assembly, would address the dearth in admission of students aspiring to study Medicine and Allied Sciences in Nigeria and supply of the needed manpower in the country’s health sector.
He said: “It is pertinent to mention here that the teeming Nigerian population puts enormous strain and stress on the national infrastructure and available Health Personnel.
“The Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, when established, would bridge the gap of the challenges of inadequate of inadequate health professional in Nigeria.”

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